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What Do In-house Counsel Really Want From Outside Law Firms?By Expert Author: Mark Andrews
According to Legal Week Intelligence's 2013 Client Satisfaction Survey, in-house counsel are most interested in receiving quality legal advice and services from their law firms. Out of a possible high score of 10, survey respondents gave a score of 9.5 when rating the importance of "the standard of legal advice" provided. Service delivery came in second, rated at 9. Cost was not as important and was the only rating to decrease in importance from last year, down to 7.6 from 7.7.
The 2013 survey polled more than 1,400 senior in-house counsel on how they rate their external law firms. The ratings were gathered from 106 UK international, city and national law in-house counsel, with most firms located in the United Kingdom, European Union or United States. Respondents were asked to rate the importance of a number of issues, including their satisfaction with their legal service providers. Responses were scored on a 10-point scale with the higher score meaning higher import or satisfaction. And, this year, for the first time, the research looked at the various legal process outsourcing (LPO) options that are available to help firms maintain quality and control costs.
Regarding LPO, the importance of outsourcing was given the lowest importance rating at 4.4, and the flexible use of workforce was at 5.2. However, when asked to rate overall satisfaction with outsourcing, the numbers were higher at 5.7 and 6.0. This suggests that, where law firms have outsourced legal work, clients have been surprisingly pleased with the outcome.
A resistance to LPO utilization remains with some law firms, but the survey indicates that chief operating officers at Fortune 100 companies have embraced this model more than any other group. General counsel and their outside counsel will have to fall in line.
According to Legal Week reporter, Charlotte Edmund, "More to the point, it demonstrates the uphill battle that law firms face to convince clients that cheaper work doesn't always mean an inferior outcome." In Charlotte’s article on the survey results titled "Turning the tide - clients still believe you get what you pay for," she opines, "The results show it is the larger and arguably more sophisticated clients that need the most convincing. Among this group there is almost a level of snobbery that comes with instructing the best and biggest law firms, and that is not an attitude that will change overnight."
The results of this survey are consistent with similar survey results from Corporate Counsel magazine, which we recently blogged about. In its first-ever 2013 Legal Process Outsourcing Survey, which poled law departments to ascertain their views on LPO, the report revealed that LPO is slowly being adopted by the legal industry and the majority of those who have outsourced are satisfied with the experience. This may mean that LPO will gain greater acceptance and more traction in the coming year. Certainly, 2014 will be an interesting year for the market.
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